Chapter 2 of the One Life Manifesto: Alone.
It was 2 o’clock in the afternoon and I was laying in the hospital bed. Just sort of thinking about what I had. Where I was. And this other really compelling feeling of just being completely and utterly alone in this bed with my thoughts. I have had this feeling before but this was the most powerful. I was just sitting there by myself for a good four hours. I mean there were nurses who would walk by and check-up and see if I was okay. But it all just seemed kind of meaningless. Ok they are just doing their job. They don’t actually care. They are paid to do what they are doing and I don’t feel any empathy from them. So, it was an interesting feeling. I was actually feeling acceptance that I was alone. That this situation, repairing my eye, was a very lonely process. that nobody was really there. Everyone else had their own lives to deal with. Yes, my parents were in the waiting room, but they could not imagine any other thoughts that I was dealing with and all the what if’s.
They don’t really understand how alone I felt. Because they weren’t there. They were not in that bed and I don’t expect them to be. I don’t expect anyone to feel any sympathy or pity for me. It’s not where I am headed with this. I am actually just stating this feeling and that you might have gone through or you might be going through it and I have to say it’s okay if you can accept it. If you can say: this is an okay feeling. This is the feeling of loneliness that I can accept. What I think will happen is that you will look at your life and you will start to admire when people take the time to see you. These are the people who love you, who care for you. The people who take the time to appreciate you and be with you.
There are times when you don’t feel alone. Those are the times that you should enjoy. You should really fully enjoy those moments because there will be times when you are alone and you need to accept that you will be alone many times in your life and that is okay. Not everyone will be with you every step of the way. And if you can build the confidence to say: this is okay, I am alone and this is a feeling that I will embrace. Because in one hour, twenty-four hours, forty-eight hours, one week, two weeks, one month I will be surrounded by people who love me and those are the moments that I really do cherish.
You will start looking at the perspective of connectedness. The better life will involve you looking at the connection with others as something very meaningful. If you can understand and appreciate the depths of being alone and handling the loneliness and handling it well and realizing that it’s a temporary feeling is powerful. Remember that you have others around you when needed. Accepting that loneliness is a part of life and not letting it take over your emotions is critical.
When I sat on the hospital bed, I felt alone, but I didn’t feel sad. I didn’t feel depressed. I didn’t feel suicidal. I didn’t feel any of that. I actually just felt okay with it and that’s probably the most important thing. To feel okay with the feeling of loneliness. You can accept the loneliness. You will be a better person if you do. You will be able to handle it yourself and really conduct yourself confidently because you are not dependent on others. Not dependent on the emotions. Not dependent on the attention. I think it’s critical that you are not needy of attention. You will become confident because you know the depths of darkness and you know the depths of light. You understand the contrast. You appreciate the feelings of both and you immerse yourself in the feelings of both. You admire the solitude. You admire the connectedness. You admire silence. You admire the noise. Those are feelings that you need to admire. Consider all the thoughts going through your head when you are alone. You need to embrace those thoughts and say: this is incredible that my mind is working this way. That I am able to create these thoughts in my head, alone, without the assistance of others.
It means that you are a brilliant individual when you can really handle your thoughts alone. Whether you are extroverted or introverted, it’s important to accept that feeling of loneliness and to say: this is okay. Because it is a temporary feeling. I can’t emphasize that enough that loneliness is temporary. So is connectedness. You flutter between both and you must be able to deal with both. You need to be able to accept when people leave you and when they are saying goodbye. There is that feeling of being alone at that very instant. They say goodbye and give you your well wishes. They will come back. The feeling of being alone is okay. You don’t need to feel hurt, feeling alone.
Loneliness is something that society frowns upon. Society says we can’t be alone. We can’t be alone anymore. We need to be on social media. We need to be texting people every day. W need to be watching TV to see what’s going on with the world. To feel connected with the world. We crave being connected to the world. To the point where if we aren’t, it’s difficult to function. It’s difficult to sit still. We have to consume to combat that feeling of loneliness. I must say this is the wrong approach. Right now, I am not capable of watching anything. My eye doesn’t allow for it. It’s not comfortable. I don’t feel comfortable reading. It hurts. Its strenuous to my vision. So, I listen to educational material. If I am not listening to educational material I am just laying here enjoying the fact that I am recovering and that everything will be okay.
And it feels great not being connected to the world. Not knowing what’s happening with the world. I am actually accepting of that feeling, knowing that it is probably trivial and probably not advantageous to know what’s going on in the world. There may be a war happening right now. It has no effect on me. I have no control on it, so why do I need to know about it. Why do I need to stress over it? I don’t.
Meditation is a trending technique for handling, accepting and embracing the loneliness. I do think that meditation is important. That people should meditate. It helps to accept that you are alone and there is nothing happening in every particular instance. You are just one with your breathing and your mind is clear. Meditation is great. Even if you do it for a couple of minutes in a day. It can do wonders to really learn how to focus and accept. The given point of time where you are by yourself. I also think that it’s okay to really appreciate your thoughts and say these thoughts are okay. I can think about what’s going on in my life and I can think about these thoughts and it’s absolutely okay. I think that’s really important that you accept whether you have thoughts in your head or whether your mind is clear. Accept that you are at peace. When you are alone, that is okay.
When you are a leader of an organization, of a business, of some initiative that you are taking on yourself, you are leading. You are taking on the position yourself. You are alone at the top. You are leading the charge. You are by yourself. You will have support. You will have people saying: well done. But they are not truly invested as you are. They are not truly in the task at hand. They are not truly emotionally connected to it as you are. You need to accept that you are alone at the top of your initiative. That you are by yourself, executing. Because then you have no one else to look at. To depend on. To complete and follow through on that initiative. You do need to accept that your supporting cast may not always be there with you. That’s why feeling alone and accepting loneliness is important as a leader. Because then it shows that you are in control of your emotions and that you are not guided by the emotions of others, by the happiness or ups and downs and what other people feel. It shows that you are true to your path and you are determined to execute on the task at hand.
I remember founding several business projects by myself. It was nice to feel supported by others. They would support you but then they wouldn’t support you for all hours of your working day. You need to accept the fact that they can turn around and go back to their normal routine and not fully understand what you still must continue to do. What you still continue to go through. You need to be able to understand that not everyone will be there with you, side-by-side. That you are leading the ship on your own. This is okay.
The people who support you, they are well-intentioned. They really truly want to support you. You have to realize that they cannot be there for you every minute of the day. You have to accept that. You need to embrace your life and fully say: hey, I really appreciate the time that you have taken to support me.
Somebody gives you their time. That’s something that you need to appreciate. Because they said to themselves: this person matters. I am going to give them my time and give them my support. My resources. That’s pretty powerful. Because it means that you have people in your life that matter. You have people who care about you. You want to take attention and direct it towards those people and say: thank you. It’s what you need to do. Sincerely thanking them is critical and you do it with emotion. Really show it with eye contact, with face-to-face, that you truly do appreciate that they are there with you when they are. Because then they will come back. They will be back. It’s good to know that you don’t always have to be alone. But when you are, you can handle it too. You can confidently say: thank you and goodbye. Also being able to say you will carry this one alone, you will handle it, is critical. You need to be able to take care of all those feelings.
If you do that I think you will be a superior leader. A master of your domain. Someone who really owns who you are. Understands who you are. That’s really critical to being really aware of your emotions. To understand loneliness. To embrace loneliness and connectedness. To understand what is connected and what is really truly genuinely connected. To understand that the news is not truly connected. It’s not a meaningful depth that you get when you have face-to-face connectedness. The genuine support from others. That’s connectedness.
Watching television isn’t connectedness. It’s one-sided connectedness. You are consuming people on the TV and yet they are not connected to you. They don’t actually connect with you at all. They don’t care about you. You have to wonder: are those the people the people you should be spending your time with, the people on television screen? I question it every day now. I question whether the people actually care and of course they do not. They are on the television screen. They don’t know who you are. They don’t even know that you exist. The real people are the people who are in front of you. The people who took their time to visit you, to call you, to say hello, to talk with you, to communicate with you on a regular basis. These are the people who matter.
You only need one and that’s yourself. If you are okay with just having yourself, then you will feel absolutely grateful when others show up. You will be astounded by the graciousness of others when they show up. So, you just need to be aware of yourself and appreciate who you are and that being alone with yourself is okay. Because when others show up, it takes your life to another level. And if they don’t, you are still more than capable of taking your life to the next level. Alone. By yourself. You are okay with that. You can tolerate the emotions and the thoughts in your head. We too often depend on this connectedness. This one-sided connectedness, this consumption.
Going on Facebook and reading news feeds, not really reaching out with people, isn’t connectedness. It’s isolation. It’s putting yourself into an emotional state. Your emotions are dictated by the photo that somebody posts on Facebook. Somebody says that they are having a shitty day and chances are you will feel that impact. If you see enough of it, you will feel it too. Oh man. They are having a shitty day. I am kind of feeling that too. You can’t let others dictate how you are feeling. And there is something that affects the emotional part of your brain when you see all those positive and negative photos. They affect your state at that very particular moment. That is how your brain is working. You have the neurons firing back and forth. You can’t help but feel impacted by what you have consumed.
So that is why I do feel you need to embrace loneliness. You need to accept it and say: this is okay. This is a good feeling. You will be a much better person. You will be more in control of yourself. If you could accept loneliness.
Society has conditioned us to say loneliness is not acceptable. Advertisements, drinking with buddies, signing up on social media accounts to feel like you belong, fear of missing out for love. Those are always things that are projected by society. You are missing out on your current life and your ability to handle yourself. You are letting others control you. You need to get over the fear of missing anything. Understand that it is a privilege to experience everything in your life going forward. A privilege that you can look outside. A privilege that you can see, feel, hear, think, touch, smell. Having these privileges, we take for granted. So, when you really appreciate your loneliness, you realize everything else is an absolute bonus in your life. An unnecessary bonus. But you will appreciate it more nonetheless.
So, I really want to conclude this by saying that in this particular chapter, loneliness is something that you really need to understand. You need to accept it. You need to say: this is absolutely okay. There is nothing depressing about it. I am talking very levelheaded here. I am very calm, very rational around loneliness. As I have spent many years feeling alone and saying: this doesn’t feel good. This doesn’t feel right and wrongfully saying: this is not acceptable. All through elementary school, high school, university, this loneliness was something that I never accepted. It was the biggest mistake of my life because had I accepted it, I would have appreciated everything that filled my day. I would have appreciated connecting with others. I would have appreciated everything more. Instead I continued to mope about my loneliness. It’s all I ever thought about was being alone and feeling completely and utterly helpless. You are not helpless. If you are alone, that’s okay.
You have the opportunity to control your life the way you want to without any emotions guiding you. You are alone and you are able to control what you would like in your life. You can attract what you like in your life. Because you are alone. It’s a clear slate and that is absolutely acceptable. So, I really hope that my discussion on loneliness has opened up a new perspective for you. Perhaps you can learn something from this. When you are alone, it is absolutely, positively, okay.